A man who suffered severe brain damage after being given the MMR vaccine as a baby has been awarded £90,000 in a landmark ruling expected to pave the way for thousands of similar compensation claims.
Robert Fletcher, 18, was a healthy 13-month-old baby when he was given the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. He now suffers from frequent epileptic fits, is doubly incontinent and is unable to stand, talk or feed himself.
Obviously this is tragic for Mr Fletcher and his family but…
The Department of Health denied any link between his disabilities and the controversial jab, but a medical assessment panel ruled last week that Mr Fletcher became severely disabled as a direct result of the MMR.
That is a hell of claim. My understanding is that no serious study has shown MMR to be dangerous. I am now thinking of Arthur Eddington, the great astrophysicist. He had a dictum that one should never believe experimental results until they are backed by theory. He was right. Unless you have a physically viable mechanism you are merely correlating and correlation is not causation.
It is thought to be the first compensation award in an MMR case since the vaccine became a focus for controversy in 1998, when the now discredited Dr Andrew Wakefield claimed it could be linked to autism.
To call Wakefield “discredited” is somewhat of an understatement and to suggest that Mr Fletcher’s problems have anything to do with autism are totally irrelevant so what the now ex-Dr Wakefield’s work has to do with this is beyond me.
Medical legal experts said last night that the ruling could open the floodgates to thousands of similar claims by families who believe their children have been adversely affected by the jab.
The vultures are circling…
Dr Robin Moffat, president of the Medico-Legal Society, said: “I would have thought there will be a surge of actions as a result of this”.
“Today, everyone is money-conscious, and if a doctor makes a mistake they are all looking for compensation, and many of them get it.”
The vultures have landed…
Dr Malcolm VandenBurg, a medical legal expert, said: “One case like this makes other people think that they will be able to get a similar ruling. In the past, when there has been a first ruling of this kind, it has opened the door to others.”
… and are feeding.
Nadine Dorries, a Conservative MP who sits on the Commons Health Committee, said: “If an independent panel has reached the conclusion that there has been a link between the MMR vaccine and the brain damage suffered by this boy in this case, then it is fair to assume that there could be as many as thousands of children and parents in the same position.”
Enter stage left “Mad” Nad just to put the cherry on the top.
Mr Fletcher, from Warrington, Cheshire, requires round-the-clock care from his parents, who have been battling for compensation for 13 years.
His mother, Jackie, dismissed the £90,000 award as “derisory”, but said she was pleased to have been vindicated.
Mrs Fletcher set up and runs the pressure group JABS which is helping around 2,000 families who claim their children were harmed by the MMR with their struggles to win compensation.
Her first application for compensation under the Government’s Vaccine Damage Payment Scheme was rejected in 1997 on the grounds that it was impossible to prove what had caused Robert’s illness.
“Round the clock care” and 90 grand. That’s a pay-off. That in no way represents the cost of this man’s care. I shall not even dignify the “vindicated” here because there is too much of the scientist to me.
But her appeal was upheld last week. In a six-page judgement, the medical assessment panel wrote: “Robert was a more or less fit boy who, within the period usually considered relevant to immunisation, developed a severe convulsion… and he then went on to be epileptic and severely retarded.
“The seizure occurred ten days after the vaccination. In our view, this cannot be put down to coincidence.”
If not coincidence (and such things do happen) then what? Have we a mechanism here?
If not then the best bet is that it is coincidence. I hope to Hell this doesn’t re-ignite the whole MMR debate which should have been put out to grass years ago.
Put it this way. If I had kids I’d have them have the MMR vaccination. That. Simple.